I Am Going to Yelp!

Now that work is back to the “usual busy” instead of the “I’m losing my mind busy,” I am catching up on the non-urgent appointments for Robert.

We finally got his new helmet – just in time too.  Robert and I had gone to pick it up a few weeks ago but the wrong helmet was ordered so we had to wait for the right one to come in. (Robert needs a hard shell helmet, including a hard shell piece covering the back of his head. This piece didn’t come with the first order so a whole new helmet had to be ordered.)

Robert_New_HelmetA few days before the right helmet came in, the old one started coming apart and Richard (@kreisler) had to pull out his mad MacGyver skills and, along with the most useful thing ever invented (duct tape), the helmet was able to last until the appointment to get the new one.

Robert loves the new helmet and the tech who helped us was able to fit it perfectly by inserting a super soft padding on the interior and clipping the pointed corners of the padding.  These are the little extra touches that only come from care and experience.

Robert had a dentist appointment the following morning. Robert does not have dental insurance but he has Medi-Cal (the California version of Medicaid) and Medicare.  Medi-Cal pays for four cleanings a year – if he lives in a board and care facility.  Medi-Cal doesn’t pay for any cleanings if he lives with us but does pay for a check-up once a year.  (I know – it doesn’t make any sense.)

Robert’s Regional Center rep sent me a list of dentists who take Medi-Cal and I chose a national chain near our house. I asked a few questions when setting up the appointment about the services covered and was told about a $25/year Dental-Cal plan that would cover more x-rays and check-ups throughout the year.  I thought that sounded prudent since the seizure medication Robert is on is known to be harsh on the bones and teeth.

Even though Robert is on state (and federal)-funded insurance, we have been spoiled with the excellent care he receives from his PCP, neurologists and the hospital physicians.  The doctors truly care for Robert and do not care what type of insurance he has.  The doctors all treat me and Robert with respect and truly put in the extra effort to keep Robert as healthy as possible.

We arrived at the dental appointment twenty minutes early.  There was quite a bit of paperwork to complete ahead of time and I wanted to be sure giving them the paperwork, copies of the Durable Power of Attorney and his medication list didn’t delay the appointment start time.

[As an aside, the health section in the paperwork included a question about “mental retardation.” This term is offensive to me and apparently to the California legislature as well because they passed legislation a few years ago that replaces the use of that term in medical settings with “intellectual disability.” Doing my civic duty, I kindly noted this on their paperwork.]

The receptionist was thrilled with the complete package I handed to her (although I’m certain she hadn’t yet seen my above-referenced note) and told us the dentist didn’t actually arrive until 9:00 a.m. (which was Robert’s appointment time).

We settled into the lobby which was comfortable enough but seemed to have way too many chairs for the size of the room.  Since we were the first to arrive, we picked a chair that was easy for Robert to get in and out of while maneuvering his walker. He settled into the chair and for the next fifteen minutes worked on his Word Search puzzle.

We were called back at 9:00 by a nice, young woman who was very patient with Robert.  She was the dental assistant who was tasked with doing x-rays.  She was extremely sweet with Robert and comfortable with him which is usually a sign that someone has experience with the disabled.  Sure enough, she told me her sister was disabled and she cared for her for many years and now helps her mom care for her.  I told her how much I appreciated her being patient with Robert when doing the x-rays (he was falling asleep and moving his head which resulted in several retakes of the pictures.)  The Dental Assistant whispered she was happy she got Robert instead of some of the other DA’s who would have become frustrated and impatient with him.

Hmm.  Red flag.

Once the x-rays were over, we were led to a dental chair and we were able to get Robert comfortably settled in.  The dentist came over and introduced herself to me and proceeded to look at the x-rays.  She rattled off each tooth and the Dental Assistant wrote down all the existing crowns, etc. in Robert’s mouth.  The dentist went through the list again and recited all the things that were wrong and that needed to be fixed.  The Dental Assistant wrote everything down and then a gentleman came over to review the list.  The dentist clarified some of his questions and then turned to me and said, “He’ll get you a quote.”

Really?  I was taken aback because she had not been talking with me or Robert but I heard her list off several crowns, extractions, cavities and other “issues.”  I told her that it sounded like a lot of work and I wouldn’t want to put Robert through all of that.  She said something to the effect of, “well, yeah, it is a lot” and then stepped away.  The gentleman who had taken over told me he would return in a minute with a quote.

Red flag, red flag, red flag.

I really just wanted a check-up and a cleaning.  Robert had been getting cleanings at New Home quarterly and it had been a year since his last one.  He also had a sedation cleaning/check-up when he first moved into New Home in order to get any extractions or cavities filled.  That was three years ago and at the time, they told me Robert didn’t need anything done.

Now Robert needs several extractions and crowns and cavities filled?

I am not the biggest fan of New Home so it wouldn’t surprise me if the truth was somewhere in the middle.

The guy comes back and hands me a quote for $2,000 to take care of a small fraction of what the dentist had said was wrong.

Nowhere on the quote was a cleaning.

Red flag!!!

I asked about the cleaning, told him I wasn’t going to go through with any of the dental work at this time and asked for a full quote on everything the dentist had suggested.

After several minutes, he returns with the revised quote.  It is $20,000 worth of dental work although with the Dental-Cal insurance it is “only” $10,000.

These people are crazy.

The cleaning is $89 plus the $25 for Dental-Cal insurance.

I agree to the cleaning and the dentist returns with the Dental Assistant who seems to be the only caring person in the building.

The dentist still has no real communication with Robert who gets increasingly uncomfortable during the procedure.  I reassure him, tell him his gums are going to hurt a little and to relax.  The dentist continues with her work and only breaks when Robert complains about his back hurting and then a short time later has a coughing fit.

I do my best to reassure him and tell him it will be over soon.

While waiting for this nightmare to be over, I decided to Google this particular location and see if there were any bad reviews.

The Yelp reviews popped up and I was kicking myself for not checking them before the appointment.  All but two were horrendous (and described our experience in varying degrees).  Someone even called out the two positive reviews and said they were written by employees!

In the meantime, there are other patients in the back area with us who are apparently regulars.  They tell the employees they will see them next week, they exchange books with each other and act like this is their social gathering for the week. I wonder how much they are willing to shell out for this social hour.

Once the dentist is finished with Robert, she takes off her gloves and standing in front of me and over Robert, tells the Dental Assistant, “Well that was my challenge of the day.”

Um, I can hear you.  (And so can Robert.)

The Dental Assistant finishes up by polishing Robert’s teeth but we cannot get out of there fast enough.

We couldn’t leave, however, because Robert had a restroom emergency which turned into a nightmare itself – he had an accident and I had left my regular car bag at home to restock it. Luckily, I had a mini-car bag in the car which contained briefs at least.

I finally cleaned him up, cleaned up the floor, and walked out to the reception area which by now was packed.  Ah, that’s why they need all those chairs.

Several people were behind the reception desk yet not one asked to check me out.  I asked who I was supposed to pay and one of them finally, begrudgingly, agreed to take my money.

Gee, so sorry to bother you.

By the time we left, two and a half hours had passed and only fifteen minutes (if that) was for the cleaning.

Obviously, we will not return to this facility but I have learned a valuable lesson:

Remember to Yelp when needed!

I have two reviews to write: a positive review for the Sacramento location of Hanger Prosthetics for their awesome service and a not so positive review of the Rancho Cordova location of Western Dental.

[Reprinted from www.RobertsSister.com]

Profile photo of Trish

About Trish

I am Robert’s older sister and a freelance writer and am also a full-time Legal Administrator for a wonderful law firm (no, that is not an oxymoron). I am the caregiver for my youngest brother, Robert, who has suffered from uncontrolled epilepsy his entire life. In his late-40s now, he lives with me and my husband. I have somehow managed to navigate the maze of social services and government programs available to help Robert and continue to be amazed at the amount of time and persistence that is needed to do so. Robert finds happiness in simple pleasures like doing word search puzzles and watching his favorite shows (Family Feud and Jeopardy, of course!)

10 thoughts on “I Am Going to Yelp!

  1. Profile photo of Gail KrollGail Kroll

    Dear Trish,
    this is an awesome blog! You write beautifully. But you know that already!:) I recommend that if indeed we have a scholarship for those who work and are caregivers you apply! You deserve it young lady! I admire you!
    With affection,
    Gail Kroll

    Reply
  2. Profile photo of PegiPegi

    Glad to hear the helmet replacement went well. But the Dentist, Yipes! How can any medical facility be so ignorant when dealing with the disabled, physically or otherwise. It boggles my mind, and makes my head want to explode when I hear/see such disrespect as the gentle Robert had to endure (and you too). Such rude and careless behavior may be worth a note to the Dental Association as well. Great ides with the Yelp, I love the power of the internet. At least we can warn others. So sorry such a simple visit turned into such a nightmare.

    Reply
    • Profile photo of TrishTrish Post author

      I know, Pegi – I couldn’t believe it myself! I’m still stunned by how overt they were about their purpose: bilking people for everything they have! I plan to notify Robert’s Regional Center, the corporate office of Western Dental as well as the Dental Association. I appreciate the suggestion!

      Reply
  3. Profile photo of DeniseDenise

    That dental appointment! I just can’t even imagine. What a nightmare. It’s awful to do your best to provide the best care possible and have an experience during which loving care is compromised.

    I wonder if you could also report the dentist to Medi-Cal or at least to the regional center rep?

    Reply
    • Profile photo of TrishTrish Post author

      That’s a good idea, Denise. I also have an appointment set up with our dentist and will just pay for it out of pocket. I’ve had my own issues with them but at least I can trust them and know they will take good care of Robert.

      Reply
  4. Profile photo of EllysGdaughterEllysGdaughter

    I love the helmet fix before the new one arrived! You have awesome skills! My cousin’s husband (lives in your area) has a helmet that is similar since he has to protect his skull where there are pieces missing from brain surgeries (for seizures)! Helmets are not to be taken lightly :) Robert is so fortunate to have you and right technician to fit the new one so carefully!
    As to the Dental issues!! As I was reading, I was so hoping you didn’t go to Western Dental,,, it wasn’t until the end that I almost shouted, You DIDN’T GO THERE!!!! They have such a horrible reputation everywhere here in Fresno! They wanted to do a “baby” root canal on my dear friend’s 2 year old without anesthesia!!!! My dentist offered to do the work when he found out and said there was absolutely no reason for the root canal! You both had such a hard day! Poor Robert!! He deserves several scoops of the best ROCKY ROAD ICE CREAM! Please give him a hug for me! Yelp is a good tool to let others know – I usually check them for restaurants and other businesses before I go!

    Reply
    • Profile photo of TrishTrish Post author

      Oh, EG, I had no idea about Western Dental! I think I’ve been so spoiled with great care for Robert regardless of his insurance that it didn’t occur to me this would be a racket. I really could not believe how they were just so comfortable & obvious with their scam (and I really believe that’s what it was). I know Robert needs dental help and I also realized I have to brush his teeth now. That’s fine but to give me the quote piecemeal – until I asked for the whole thing? To just assume I was going to let them put Robert through all that pain without telling me what was mission critical? Ugh! We have an appointment on Wednesday with my own dentist. I trust they will tell us what is really, truly needed. And, yes, Robert gets extra ice cream. :-)

      Reply
      • Profile photo of EllysGdaughterEllysGdaughter

        My son now uses an electric toothbrush (as an adult) and had bad brushing habits. Would that be a good idea for Robert? When we were camping last time, I saw some young ladies using a battery operated toothbrush that played a tune for the length of time they needed to be brushing so it was vibrating and playing a tune. That sounded pretty cool and they were happy to show it to me!

        Reply
  5. Profile photo of CasandraCasandra

    Sadly, I have used and recently used Western Dental. When I was in Arizona they were just as horrible as my experience in California BUT I had complained to the location I went to in Arizona and would only be seen by the head dentist in charge. He was a very pleasant man to deal with but everyone else was rude.
    Then, I found out they charged me for things they didn’t even do. It took me almost an entire year, as I just resolved it last month, to actually have it corrected. They had to adjust my bill.
    On top of that, I had a cap put in because it was suggested. The tooth in question was perfectly fine, it had had a root canal and I wasn’t having any issues. I had went in to have the filling replaced. They talked me into getting a cap placed on it. They said it would “save” my tooth. I reluctantly did it because it cost nearly $800 to be done but I paid for it any way.
    THEN it took them two months to actually place the cap because the first cap they did she claimed was too tight, she shaved the inside of the cap and shaved out too much. They had to refit me and send it off for another one. THEN when they got that one, same issue so they shaved down my gums and part of the tooth to make it fit. It still did not fit correctly and I complained for many months that I could feel air under the cap. To which I was told that was because my gums were shaved and had to grow back.
    When I went in last month to get it treated because it had started causing me issue again on top of the fact that I had another tooth I needed looked at, they told me that the cap was no good and the tooth underneath was fractured which happens from “chewing” and that they would not be able to save the tooth.
    I was livid!
    It took myself and Marc on many occasions, because I was too hot in the face to deal with their corporate office, to FINALLY get them to somewhat fix the issue. And what I mean by that is that I had $140 left to pay on the cap and they waived the remainder. I was told the cap would last for five years and it didn’t last for one. While I am grateful not to have to finish paying on it… I had asked them, can’t you at least pull the tooth for free since I paid over $700 for something that didn’t last the length it should have. The answer was no. They wanted to waive the remainder balance and then charge me $300 to pull the tooth. $100 for their dental insurance and then a “supposed” discounted rate of $200 to pull the tooth.
    I called around to several dental offices and found one that could do it for $50. Why on Earth was their discounted amount $200? I have no idea but I feel from the moment I stepped into their offices it was a scam and the WORSE customer service EVER.
    I will NEVER EVER use them again… and reading your post reminded me that I, too, have yet to put my review on Yelp! as well.
    Not to mention, I had a 9AM appointment and didn’t get seen until 11AM that day for them to spend 5 mins with me to tell me they couldn’t do anything for either of my issues unless I wanted to sell my soul to pay for the dental work.
    I feel your pain, Trish.

    Reply

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